New Delhi: India appeared to signal a change in policy on Wednesday when it pledged to help strengthen the capabilities of Afghanistan's security forces after a meeting between the defence ministers of both countries in New Delhi.
Indian defence minister AK Antony "conveyed the government of India's willingness to work with the Afghan government in building the capabilities of Afghan security forces," a statement said.
Antony is hosting his Afghan counterpart, Abdul Rahim Wardak, who is on a three-day visit to India. Wardak heads a seven-member delegation.
So far India has scrupulously avoided committing itself to any formal engagement with Afghanistan in defence-related matters, mostly out of compulsions related to Af-Pak sensitivities of Western powers who are militarily engaged in the region.
Islamabad has strenuously tried to limit India's presence in this war-torn country and any commitment from India's end to engage in military relations with Kabul is bound to have repercussions in Islamabad, which considers Afghanistan to be in its 'strategic' sphere of influence.
This act of strategic surrogacy by Islamabad is a cause of great irritation to Kabul.